It’s November 2, 2014 and that means thousands of writers all over the world are hunkering down and trying to write a novel-length something before the end of the month. A “novel” is most loosely defined as: 50,000 words blarged onto a page of some kind. Our friends over at Dictionary.com have this to say about it:
“A fictitious prose narrative of considerable length and complexity, portraying characters and usually presenting a sequential organization of action and scenes.”
NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is an organization that exists to ensure more books get out into the world. They tend to lean more toward my loose definition of the word “novel” and simply ask for writers to jot down 50,000 words (roughly 250 double spaced pages using Times New Roman 12 point font) in one month. Do this and you will, by their definition, be successful. You will “win”, and you will get a fancy certificate to prove it. Here are mine from the last two years:
Now let’s be clear, if you are getting paid by someone to do a particular something then they get to decide. If you have a contract and the terms are laid out plain and simple (or as plain an simple as those things get) then that’s what decides. If you have defined success as some number of sales or some number in your bank account, then other people may be involved (by buying your book and/or giving you money), but it’s still your definition of success.
This year for NaNoWriMo I have defined success differently than in the past. Why? Because I can, that’s why. I am going to try to write a complete novel from a story perspective in at least 50,000 words. That means by the end of the month I will have something that can be edited. No loose ends. No missing chapters. “THE END” boldly written at the bottom. Oh, and I will do one blog post on each of the Sundays in the month of November as well (five in total).
I will get a certificate for the novel and I will proudly display it. It will represent my success this year and no one will be able to take that away.
So go out and define your success and then do whatever you have to do (legally, please) to achieve it. If you’re a writer then use NaNoWriMo however you want to help you down the road to success. Need to edit a few hundred pages? Good! Set daily goals and a monthly total and get to it. Need to finish off that novel you’ve been working on for the past 23 months? Good! Use NaNoWriMo to do it. Want to crank out 30 blog posts in 30 days? Good! You see where this is going?
You’re in the driver’s seat.
You get to decide.
If you will allow me a Yoda moment… In control of your destiny, you are.
Use The Force, Luke. Use The Force.